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Table of Contents    
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 64  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 847-848

Professor Peter Joseph Jannetta

1 Department of Neurosurgery, AIIMS, New Delhi, India
2 Department of Neurosurgery, St. Stephens Hospital, New Delhi, India

Date of Web Publication5-Jul-2016

Correspondence Address:
Guru D Satyarthee
Department of Neurosurgery, AIIMS, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0028-3886.185375

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How to cite this article:
Satyarthee GD, Kumar S. Professor Peter Joseph Jannetta. Neurol India 2016;64:847-8

How to cite this URL:
Satyarthee GD, Kumar S. Professor Peter Joseph Jannetta. Neurol India [serial online] 2016 [cited 2020 Aug 9];64:847-8. Available from:

Prof. Peter Joseph Jannetta, MD, DSc, FAANS (5 April, 1932 to 11 April, 2016), was a renowned American neurosurgeon, academician, musician, social worker, and sport enthusiast. He was very popular among neurosurgeons across the globe for his revolutionary microvascular decompression surgical technique, which became the standard treatment for one of the world's most painful human suffering i.e., trigeminal neuralgia. He also appreciated art, music, and innovation.

He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He completed his secondary school education at William Penn High School. During his school days, he was an All-American in swimming and the Vice-President of the student body. He received his bachelor's degree in zoology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1953. He actively participated in football and swimming while in college. Later, he received his medical graduation from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School in 1957, and completed his surgical residency training at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He also completed neurosurgical residency training program at the Department of Neurosurgery, University of California, Los Angeles. He was board certified in general surgery as well as in neurosurgery. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Washington and Jefferson College.

In his glittering professional career, he held the post of Associate Professor and Chief of the Division of Neurosurgery at the Louisiana State University School of Medicine, New Orleans. In 1971, he shifted to the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and held the prestigious position as Chief, Division of Neurosurgery, and subsequently the Chairman in 1973. He was the Frances Sargent Cheever Distinguished Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine from 1976 to 1978. He was the Walter E. Dandy Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The University also established the Peter J. Jannetta Chair in Neurological Surgery in 1992. During 1995–1996, Prof. Jannetta served as the Pennsylvania secretary of health. In July of 2000, he moved to the Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, where he was the Director of the Cranial Nerve Center.

Prof. Jannetta was awarded the Olivecrona Award in the year 1983, which was presented by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. In 1990, he was selected as the Vectors/Pittsburgh Man of the Year in the Sciences. He is one of the recipients of the 1990 Horatio Alger Award as well as the Fedor Krause Medal award by the German Neurosurgical Society in 2000. He was awarded the Zulch Prize for basic neurosurgical research, which was presented by the Max Planck Society for the advancement of Science in 2006. He was also the recipient of the Medal of Honour presented by the prestigious World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies for his vast contributions to the advancement of medicine in the year 2009. In 2007, he received the Claire W. Patterson Award for distinguished service from the Trigeminal Neuralgia Association.

In the third phase of his medical career, after retiring from the University in 2000, he joined the staff of Allegheny General Hospital in the same year to establish the Jannetta Cranial Nerve Center and continued publishing research papers and teaching in the neuroscience residency program till his demise. He launched the Jannetta Neuroscience Foundation Inc., 5023 Frew St., Pittsburgh, PA 15213, a public educational research foundation to educate people about the renowned Jannetta procedure at many of the American neurosurgery centres.

He performed his first microvascular decompression surgery on 1st June 1966 on a hemifacial spasm patient, and subsequently performed the first microvascular decompression for trigeminal neuralgia 3 months later. Although Prof. Jannetta struggled and the procedure was considered controversial for many years, finally it was accepted by neurosurgeons across the globe.

The Jannetta technique is considered to be an effective method for treatment with proven efficacy in trigeminal neuralgia and hemifacial spasm, Meniere's disease, disabling vertigo, and glossopharyngeal neuralgia. Prof. Jannetta continued to expand the indications of microvascular decompression throughout his life and tried to investigate its role with clinical trials and research methodology. He showed the technique to be of proven efficacy in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus, obstructive sleep apnea, Parkinson's disease, Bell's palsy, and even cardiac arrhythmias.

Dr. Jannetta also was an accomplished teacher who trained numerous students and efficiently headed their residency programs, and who eventually rose to become the Chiefs of many American neurosurgical centres. Dr. Jannetta played music on the banjo. He was an avid art collector and donated major works to the Museum of American Art in Greensburg. He was one of the physicians who was the sole subject of a book titled “Working in a Very Small Place: The Making of a Neurosurgeon,” which was authored by Mark L. Shelton.

He mentored hundreds of talented young neurosurgeons and wrote about 400 articles. Prof. Jannetta spent his life working tirelessly to provide aid to sick and needy people. He left a legacy of thousands of people, who were treated by him.


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